Last week, a group of suspected poachers illegally entered South Africa’s Kruger National Park to kill rhinos for the prized horns. Days later, park rangers discovered a human skull and a pair of pants they believe belonged to a poacher. He’d been trampled to death by an elephant, according to his accomplices, only for his bodily remains to be later “devoured” by a pride of lions. TimesLive reports that at least three other men have since been arrested in relation to the incident, and are facing a string of charges including conspiracy to poach and trespassing.
The men entered the park on Monday, Police Brigadier Leonard Hlathi explained, "when suddenly an elephant attacked and killed one of them.” The survivors claim to have carried the victim’s body to a nearby road “so that passers-by could find it in the morning,” and later informed his family members of the incident. But when rangers returned to the area to recover the man’s remains, his body could not be found.
"The [victim’s] family… called Skukuza regional ranger Don English who, after assuring the family that he would do everything possible to recover the remains and bring them closure, arranged a search party,” said Isaac Phaahla, general manager of communications and marketing at the park. "Rangers on foot, accompanied by members of the KNP Airwing flew over the area that was described by the family but due to failing light, could not locate the body.”
After receiving further information from the other poachers, rangers resumed the search on Thursday morning and finally discovered the deceased man's remains. "Indications found at the scene suggested that a pride of lions had devoured the remains leaving only a human skull and a pair of pants," said Isaac. Police Briagdier Hlathi also confirmed that police had arrested three men aged between 26 and 35 in relation to the incident, all of whom have been remanded in custody until April 12, pending a formal bail application.
Kruger National Park managing executive Glenn Phillips, meanwhile, offered his condolences to the relatives of the deceased.
“Entering Kruger National Park illegally and on foot is not wise, it holds many dangers and this incident is evidence of that,” he said. “It is very sad to see the daughters of the deceased mourning the loss of their father, and worse still, only being able to recover very little of his remains.”
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This article originally appeared on VICE AU.